The public health grant 2020-21 has been set at £3.279bn, the government has announced – an increase of £145m on the 2019-20 figure. Health organisations and local authorities had been urgently calling on the government to announce the new allocation, particularly in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Though an increase, further funding will be needed to reverse years of cuts to public health services,’ said the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), which had wanted to see an increase of £1bn.
‘It is welcome that the government has taken a positive step forward after year upon year of deep cuts to local public health,’ added president of the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy.
While local authorities now had ‘the certainty the ADPH has been calling for since December’ the reality on the ground was that the allocations would not ‘reverse the staff and services lost overnight, whether that be in relation to early years interventions, sexual health services, drug and alcohol treatment or capacity to prepare for outbreaks like coronavirus,’ she stated. ‘Directors of public health will continue to face tough decisions. What is needed, through the upcoming spending review, is a significant, multi-year settlement for public health – just like the NHS.’
Long-term investment in public health at local level was now essential to reduce inequalities, reduce pressure on the NHS and maintain a ‘resilient health protection system’, she said.